This is the page where I normally write helpful articles on tips, secrets, and how-to’s for photographers and models alike. However, today is going to be something a little different. Today will be the first installment in a confession of sorts, as I will tell you ten odd, humorous, and amusing situations I have found myself in during the pursuit of the perfect shot. Everything will be kept anonymous, no names or specific places mentioned. Are you ready? The list begins now.
- Going to New Heights
On numerous occasions I have balanced on ledges three or five stories high – all on my own accord. I’ve even gone so far to do a little gymnastics and yoga to make things more interesting. What can I say? There were amazing sunsets in the background and those poses looked good with the golden backlight. But one time I was asked to physically climb a tree, and that didn’t come quite as naturally to me…
“So we’ll put you up there,” the photographer said while motioning to the tree. Right…
While I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, I’m not the most skilled tree-climber. I was wearing a floor-length dress at the time, which made things even more difficult. I remember how terrified and imbalanced I was as I tried to pose gracefully on that limb. The photographer was such a trooper for helping me up – and down – and I gave the task my best. He seemed satisfied with the results, but I have yet to see the images. I imagine they weren’t quite up to par to make the editing cut.
- Giving the Run-Around…Literally
It was early sunrise, I had driven two hours to shoot with a new photographer on the beach. He is now one of my favorite photographers to pose for and a very close friend, but at the time I barely knew him. We had done nothing more than exchange messages and texts to plan the shoot. Even so, I had no idea what I was about to have asked of me.
We began with a few icebreaker shots. Simple smiles, poses that weren’t very complex, just feeling each other out. After the first wardrobe change, he had an idea…
“Alright, I want you to run out into the waves in that direction. Okay?”
“Okay.” Again, I’m wearing a floor-length dress. It doesn’t matter though, I pick up the skirt, turn around, and get my cue to begin running out into the ocean. I ran out until the water was up to my thighs and I could run no more.
“Now turn around and run back,” he shouts over the commotion of the waves.
Okay. I turned around and ran back as I was told, laughing and smiling to myself at how amusing it must have appeared to any onlookers. I got back on the sand and he looked through his camera…
“Hmmm… Yes, let’s do that again,” he said. I ended up running up and down the beach for a good thirty minutes after that.
- “Make me hurt!!”
This day I was shooting studio portraits with someone new. He was an excellent director, and guided me well to achieve the looks he wanted. It isn’t uncommon for a photographer to ask a model to give them their “angry face,” but this photographer asked for something a little different.
“I want you to feel pain. Let me see it in your eyes.” The camera clicked… “Yes, very good. Make me sad, make me feel it too.” It clicked again… “F*** yes, make me hurt!!” It kept right on clicking. Every time somebody sees that picture, they never believe it is me. The expression is so different from how I normally appear. It was very odd though, I have never been in the position where someone is shouting at me to make them hurt.
- Getting A Leg Up
Levitation images are tricky. You must photograph a series of images with and without the model in-frame. Then the images are combined in post-production to create the illusion that the model is floating in mid-air. This photographer and I were attempting a levitation image at a public historic garden…
We were going to create an image where I was floating upright, with my legs tethered by a trail of moss holding me to the ground. I remember standing on the bench and wrapping the moss around my legs before attempting to strike a “floating” pose. After this, it was time to photograph the scene without the bench…it wouldn’t budge. It was far too heavy for two young women. The photographer had a clever idea.
“Let me just get a close up of your legs actually in the air and I’ll try to combine that with the top of your body to make you float.”
We were grasping at straws here, because it never actually worked in the final image. The backgrounds in the scenes simply didn’t match up, and the two halves of my body didn’t look natural when pasted together. But it was funny to try at the time! We were dying laughing together as I lay there on the bench with my moss-tied legs extended up in the air. All the other guests in the garden who saw were quite perplexed.
- The (Really) Little Mermaid
We had just completed shooting a series of images for a nail salon ad campaign. The photographer and I found ourselves at the beach for the final series of images. The photographer was gazing intently at the back of her camera as she scrolled through the final images and said with a smile; “That’s a wrap,” but then she looked up with a twinkle in her eye. “You know, I might have my tails in the trunk.” Let me explain…
This photographer has a deep love for mermaids. She talks so passionately about them, she creates them in the form of clay figurines, and she photographs them. Her private supply of props includes various sizes of mermaid tails, seashell tops, nautical belts, and more.
“How about it, do you want to be a mermaid Ashley?” How was that even a question? Yes, I did.
Surely enough, there were two tails in her trunk, but only one had a possibility of fitting me. I’ve been told I am notoriously tiny (which I find hard to believe in comparison to other models), so we tried our luck with a small tail that wouldn’t appear over-sized. I was not aware of precisely how hard it would be getting into this outfit.
She led me back to the water’s edge where I sat on the ground and began to slip into the tail. The fabric was very thick and tight with minimal stretching. The photographer has severe back and joint pain and could not offer any help…I was on my own. So there I was, writhing around in the sand pulling up this mermaid tail, meticulously pulling out every wrinkle to the best of my ability. Yes, there were people watching. Yes, they were laughing (as was I).
After scooting and rolling myself into the water we resumed shooting…until we saw a fisherman with a large net. Naturally we stopped him and asked to borrow it, and I soon found myself being entangled in a net by this stranger. He was such a good sport about it and made all the adjustments the photographer asked. I made it home that night very salty and sandy with a new fisherman admirer. Something I wasn’t expecting at all from a typical salon ad.
These are some of the more lighthearted memories I have from my years of experience. What did you think? Next week I have five more moments I can’t wait to share with you… Some of which still give me goosebumps to this day.
Model: Ashley BeLoat
Photographer: Dan Mahar – www.danielvmahar.com – IG: @dan_mahar
Until next week,
Professional Page: https://www.facebook.com/Ashley.BeLoat.images/